Wayne Rooney’s future at Manchester United is uncertain as he continues to be linked to a move away
Sometimes its best to go your separate ways. You’ve achieved as much as you can together and its best to depart on amicable terms. Nope, its not what tons of couples up and down the country are thinking – it is the sensitive guff that usually accompanies the opening paragraph of a summer transfer story. Wayne Rooney has been one of Manchester United’s greatest players in history. He has netted more goals than George Best, Ruud van Nistelrooy & Dennis Viollet and is closing in on Jack Rowley – but his future is uncertain at Manchester United.
It is nine seasons since an eighteen year old Evertonian walked through the Old Trafford doors, fresh from Euro 2004, to sign for the club. Will United’s troubled number ten pack up his things and leave for pastures new? Or will the new gaffer be able to turn Rooney’s fortunes around?
Wayne Rooney’s latest transfer request could be compared to you threatening to leave your attention soaked girlfriend due to paranoia issues, despite two years earlier nearly finishing it with her as you thought she’d put on a few pounds. Whether it be his ‘emotions’ as Gary Neville discussed post Swansea City celebrations, or whether it be United’s number ten has had his nose put firmly out of joint – Rooney appears to be frustrated with life at Old Trafford and feels a move is his only form of escape. There have been numerous rumours over the years of a rift between Sir Alex Ferguson and his talisman, which of course exploded as the 2012/13 season came to an climax.
In the end, the outgoing Manchester United boss no longer had to rely on his prized asset and could afford to substitute Rooney, something which Sir Alex thought was a contributing factor in his request to leave the club. With Fergie heading upstairs, one of David Moyes’ first challenges will be to ensure Rooney that he has a future at the football club. A future just off Robin van Persie, not out wide or deeper in a midfield role.
Many will slate Rooney and assume that the club should get rid. I do not disagree. If a player doesn’t want to be there, then why keep them? Eric Cantona was reported to have driven around Paris on a motorcycle, pursued by Alex Ferguson, who was desperately trying to assure the Frenchman that his future, his destiny was at M16. If Cantona had have received his wish at that time, and United had of allowed the disgruntled star to leave for Italy (where there were heavy links with Internazionale) – then the 95/96 double may well never have happened. Cantona’s apparent reason for wanting to jump ship was due to the hounding of the media in the UK during his suspension from football.
The first time; Rooney’s transfer request was surely down to money and status at United. The club met his City bluff and rewarded him with a handsome salary and contract extension. Second time around, its a little more hazy. Did his relationship deteriorate so much with Ferguson that he felt the only option left was to leave? Did van Perie’s remarkable introduction and iconic fan status touch a nerve with the now mortal number ten? We may find out a bit more over the close season.
Some football fans believe that Wayne Rooney has somewhat unfulfilled a football prodigy that was benchmarked to roll Paul Gascoigne, Alan Shearer and Roy of the Rovers all into one. Winning five league titles, a champions league and becoming Manchester United’s fourth top goalscorer of all time, for me – any footballer would be pleased with that on their CV. At 27, he still has years ahead to achieve even more. From a technical perspective, his vision is top class, but at times – his mind this season looks elsewhere. Anyone that has played the game at any level knows that you need to have your head right if you’re going to deliver a top performance.
Over the years we’ve seen through balls, reverse balls and cross field balls to switch play that you simply can’t teach, regardless of the amount of money or time you spend on an individual. Rooney’s electric pace may begin to desert him as his Benjamin Button hair style evolves even further, but his ability to pick passes will remain forever more. This is one of Rooney’s greatest strengths that leads to his biggest frustration, his versatility. United managed three direct assists from their own half this season. One was Jonny Evans punt up the pitch for Rooney to score against Fulham, whilst one of the other two was the sublime pass from Rooney, the central midfielder, to van Persie to score United’s goal of the season. The pass was played down to be honest, but that amazing technique Robin van Perise has, flourishes on delivery like that.
Rooney has been sacrificing his own game for years. Ronaldo was the obvious beneficiary, especially in Champions League games. One of the great European goals of all time saw the galloping Ronaldo, surging through the midfield and into the Arsenal penalty area, whilst Rooney’s perfectly weighted ball from a left sided role ensured United were on their way to a second successive Champions League final. Ronaldo can play anywhere across the front line, but you would never give him defensive responsibilities, unlike what has been cast on Rooney’s shoulders over the years.
So should United get rid of Rooney following his latest outburst? He was depicted as the villan of the piece as Sir Alex Ferguson took his final curtain bow. He was greeted with boos at the parade, and rightfully so – if he wants to leave, its fair game right? But what if that move is what he needs to reignite the quality we all know he has? The ‘no brainer’ of a transfer involving Robin van Persie to United from Arsenal saw a player playing at the top of his game, help a team push on and easily win the league title. Van Persie needed the move and so did United.
Arsenal finished fourth, arguably – where they would have finished had they kept hold of the Dutchman – so they achieved what the Wenger Emirates blueprint entails. If indeed Rooney left United for the London club, he would surely push Arsenal nearer to the top? A reinvigorated Wayne Rooney would be a problem if he moved to a domestic rival. Many will, rightfully, state that after United “the only way is down”. Other than Cristiano Ronaldo and Jaap Stam, it would be hard to argue otherwise for the players that have left over the past twenty years.
However, Rooney should be now at his peak years and David Moyes will surely continue to be as defiant as his predecessor was regarding where he will be playing come August. Chelsea are now leading the way, according to Bwin, to sign the forward, following Jose Mourinho’s comments in his opening press conference the other day.
Its easy to throw about the idea that Rooney would be comfortable in Munich, Madrid, Paris or at another European superpower, but with the extremely weak English export conveyer belt, can you really see Rooney setting up in a foreign land, learning a new language and adapting to another style of football? Don’t get me wrong, he has an abundance of quality and can play in any top European side, when his head is on his game. The big question is, can he become that player again at Manchester United under his first manager? That volley against Newcastle, that chip against Portsmouth and that overhead kick against City. When Rooney does finally leave Old Trafford, the usual over romanticised SkySports montage will be packed to the rafters with pure quality. The main issue will be the cover song; the boys are back in town or bittersweet symphony.